Shaun Lane hero for Parramatta Eels vs Penrith Panthers

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It’s fair to say Shaun Lane hasn’t felt the NRL spotlight shone on him this brightly throughout his eight-year career.

The Parramatta backrower has never been selected for a senior representative team, or won any major award.

But he may hold the key to Eels success as they prepare to take on western Sydney rival Penrith in the grand final on Sunday.

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Lane, 27, was the unlikely hero as his team held on to beat North Queensland in Friday’s preliminary in Townsville.

Parramatta was desperately clinging to a four-point lead but the Cowboys were steaming home, and looked likely to run over the top of the visitors in a nail-biting finish.

With North Queensland on the charge and a staggered Eels defensive line looking flimsy inside its own 20-metres, it was Lane who came up with two clutch tackles and then intercepted a Cowboys kick, all in the one set.

It wasn’t quite single-handed but it’s not an exaggeration to say the Cowboys would have likely scored if not for Lane’s repeat efforts without the ball.

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”Shaun Lane now knows his game – when to run, when to pass, his offload through the line, he’s got confidence to do that pre-line pass,” league legend Andrew Johns explained on Nine’s The Sunday Footy Show.

“But he is so damaging on that left side, and the combination with (five-eighth) Dylan Brown. Dylan goes far enough to get (Lane) early ball, get him in space.

Lane buzzing ahead of grand final

“He’s finding himself in the big moments. He threw the pass, he charged down, made that last tackle on Jordan McLean. Geez he’s playing well.”

Lane debuted for Canterbury in 2015 and played 14 games – mostly off the bench – in his rookie NRL season.

He spent time at the Warriors and then Sea Eagles before joining Parramatta in 2019.

While he’s played 146 games at the top level and would be considered a veteran in most sports, Lane is only now beginning to stand out among the Eels pack, which boasts several representative stars.

He recently credited his purple patch of form in part to his study of psychology.

“If you’re not delving into that part of your body and your life, then you’re not getting the best out of yourself,” NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler told The Sunday Footy Show.

“All the best sportsmen in the world are all getting the most out of being present, and working it out. It’s just about getting yourself in the moment, as they say, and backing yourself.

“It’s the best part – it’s being able to pull that off, it’s being able to do the charge-down, it’s not dropping the ball when they’re throwing tight passes on the line, because you’re actually not worrying about anything other than catching the ball, and you’re concentrating.

“Unless you’re investigating that part of your brain and your body, then you’re not going to be the best player you are.”

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